Home > Better Man (Lesser #2)

Better Man (Lesser #2)
Author: Penelope Sky


ONE

 

 

CAMILLE

 

 

When Grave didn’t come for me, I feared he’d knocked his head against the hull of the ship and drowned. I was so happy when I escaped his grasp and found Cauldron, and I could hardly believe that I regretted that decision. Grave was a fucking walk in the park compared to this asshole.

I tried to escape a few times, creeping through the house to the front door, but now Hugo locked my bedroom at night, so I was stuck there until morning. My phone was taken away so I couldn’t call for help. Couldn’t figure out if Grave was still alive.

My only way out of there was the patio. I was three stories off the ground, and a fall would probably break a leg and an arm, might even kill me, but it was my only way out at this point. Cauldron and I hadn’t set eyes on each other since our conversation after the yacht party, and perhaps he hoped distance would make my heart grow fonder.

Not a chance.

I took all the sheets off my bed, even my pillowcases, and knotted the corners to make a rope. I tied one end to the bars that wrapped around the outside of the patio and gave it a couple tugs with my hands. When I looked over the edge, I saw a couple pots of flowers and the cobblestone path that wrapped around the property. If I jumped down and the sheets came apart…that would be a nasty fall.

Real nasty.

“Maybe I should think this through…” I stared at the ground for a while before a brilliant idea sprang into my mind. I returned to the bedroom and pulled the mattress off the top of the bed and pushed it onto the balcony. Anyone directly below me could probably hear all the ruckus I was making, but there seemed to be no one there. Otherwise, they’d have come running by now.

I tipped the mattress over the edge and tried to aim it as best as I could before it slipped and fell forty feet below. For something so soft, it made a distinct thud when it struck the ground. I sucked in a breath between my closed teeth and listened, hoping no one had heard that.

It was as silent as ever. “Phew.”

I tugged on the sheets again before I climbed over the rail and prepared to let my feet leave the edge. I looked down again before I took a deep breath. A girl like me wasn’t afraid of much, but even with a mattress below, I could break every bone in my body…and then I’d never get away.

“Are you fucking crazy?”

He appeared in the open doors of the patio, shirtless in his sweatpants, pissed off.

“Shit.” There was no time to dawdle, so I released the edge and put all my weight on the sheets.

It held, but the knot above me was already starting to loosen.

“Go, go, go,” I said under my breath, trying to move as quickly as possible without causing my body to swing forward and backward.

I felt the rope give as the sheets started to come undone.

“Stop moving!” Cauldron’s head appeared between the bars, and his strong hands grabbed the sheets below the loosening knot. He grabbed it just in time, holding my weight with his arms because the sheets’ attachment to the patio bars was gone. “Get your ass back up here.”

I continued my descent to the bottom. “Thanks for the hand.”

“Camille!”

I quickly climbed down to the very bottom then let go, falling ten feet onto the mattress below. It cushioned my landing exactly as I’d intended. I was able to get to my feet without even a sore ass. When I looked up to the balcony, Cauldron was already gone.

“Gotta hurry.” I’d already tried climbing the walls at the front gate several times, but the security was tightest at the access points. This time, I decided to go west, where there was just foliage. Maybe there was another house nearby. No idea. The limestone wall was higher here than it was at the entrance, so I had my work cut out for me as I dug my fingertips into the grooves between the rocks and hoisted my body up higher.

I couldn’t bring any of my things with me besides some money and my ID, but it was better than staying. I continued to climb, and when I was halfway up, I heard Cauldron behind me. “You could have broken your neck, you know that?”

“Well, that’s how much I hate you.” I kept my focus on the wall and continued climbing. “Take it as a compliment.”

“Get down from there.”

“Nope, I’m good.” I kept going, over halfway to the top.

“The ground on the other side is uneven. You’ll break your ankle.”

“I can hop the rest of the way.”

He really turned angry. “Get your ass down here, or I’ll break your ankle myself.”

“Yeah, I’ll get right on that.” I was almost to the top. All I had to do was pull myself to the other side and run for it. It would take him just as long to climb the wall, and by then, I’d be long gone. All I had to do was make it to a house or follow the road to town.

When I reached the top, I lowered myself to the other side and tried to climb down, but it was pitch dark and my fingers slipped. I fell until I hit the ground, and just as Cauldron warned, it was on a slope. My foot landed at an odd angle, and I clenched my teeth hard so no one would hear my scream.

Fuck, he was right. It was too dark to know if it was broken or just sprained.

Less than a minute later, he landed beside me, a flashlight between his teeth.

“What are you, a monkey?” I snapped. “You climb fast…”

He kneeled and pointed the flashlight at my foot. “What did I tell you? You’re lucky it’s not broken.”

“It’s not?” I asked, trying not to wince in pain. “It sure feels like it.”

“Here.” He handed me the flashlight.

“You’re going to throw me over your back and carry me?” I asked incredulously.

He scooped his arms underneath my body and lifted me to his chest. “Point the flashlight.”

“Where?”

“Ahead.”

I pointed the light along the wall.

In silence, he carried me, like he knew where he was going.

Defeated, I just sat there, my eyes down on my thighs in shame. This was the closest I’d come to escaping, and I screwed it up.

Moments later, he walked through an open gate onto the property.

“There’s a gate?” I climbed that wall for nothing?

The mattress was gone because his staff had already picked it up and carried it back into the house. The rope of bedsheets was crumpled on the ground from where he’d dropped it. His strong arms didn’t tremble as he carried me to the front doors. “Call for Roger. She needs a wrap for her ankle.”

“Roger?”

“He’s a doctor.”

“It doesn’t even hurt anymore. It’s probably fine.” When I tried to roll it, a burning pain shot up my leg and into my stomach, and for a brief moment, I thought I’d be sick. Okay…maybe it wasn’t fine.

When we entered my bedroom, the maids were still putting fresh sheets on the bed. Cauldron set me on the couch and lifted my injured leg to place it on the coffee table. An ice pack was handed to him, and he applied it to my leg.

I gave a visible wince.

“It’ll feel better once the swelling goes down.”

I couldn’t stop myself from breathing hard, but I hid all the other signs of pain. Refused to admit my escape plan was a big, fat mistake. If my ankle was sprained, it’d be several weeks before I could execute another plan.

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